Tips for Photographers: Shooting Tethered!
Shooting Tethered in the Studio
One of my new workflow habits that I’ve adopted this year is to shoot tethered in the studio. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for some time now but I was always intimidated to do it (unchartered waters can be scary). I realized that I spent a lot of time culling, importing and editing images, but I could actually minimize that time, get better results and have an even quicker turn around time to my clients.
My workflow in the studio before switching to tethered shooting was this: image download, preview image edit/retouch, cull, import to Lightroom, edit, export, upload. After years of doing things this way, I found that I needed a workflow pick-me-up to make sure I can keep up with my busy schedule and also stay up with the times.
As a business owner I need to keep track of my time and work smarter, which is where tethering comes in. I tried Adobe Lightroom’s tethering feature and I also tried out Phase One’s Capture One software before I decided on what program would work best for me. I must say that I love working in Capture One. I recently posted on my Facebook page that I’ve officially joined the church of Capture One, which to my knowledge is not a real church so I’m basically a self-appointed religious leader now. 😉
Shooting tethered with Capture One is awesome! I love that I can set my photo adjustments and that they will show up for each image. While I’m still a newbie at tethered shooting, I don’t think I’ll go back to my previous workflow for studio shoots again. This is a total time saver for me because after my shoot all I need to do is cull, review and export my images. I recently shot a huge commercial project of over 70 people and I was able to get the proofed images out to my client the next morning! With my previous workflow that would have taken me a long time.
Tips for Starting Out Shooting Tethered:
- Buy a long USB cable from Tether Tools – their products are made great!
- Test out tethering on personal projects and test shoots before you use it with a client. Get your workflow and knowledge of the program you are using.
- Backups are important! Setting up a backup drive(s) while you shoot is key to a successful shoot! While I’m shooting to my computer, I have a backup drive connected and Carbon Copy Cloner is doing a backup of the shoot files.
- In Capture One I shoot each new shoot in a Session. This way the files are imported separately per shoot instead of having all of my shoots in one big giant catalog. Catalogs have always annoyed me; I don’t like putting all my eggs into 1 basket.
When I’m shooting in the studio with a headshot client, it lets my hair + makeup artist get a larger view of the images. For private headshot clients, I take control of the tethering, but for larger commercial clients I hire out a digital tech. They can zoom in and check for things that show up in camera, which lets me make the necessary changes while I’m shooting. I can also have a client view the images directly after I shoot them, which is helpful, especially when shooting something commercial or on a tight deadline.
Tethering for Headshot Clients
I love shooting tethered for headshot clients however it’s important to let them know about the tethering process at the beginning of the shoot. This also means you need to be aware of how frequently they are seeing the images. Remember – it’s not every day that we see hundreds of images of ourselves, so having a big screen of images show up while you shoot may not be the best approach for your headshot or portraits clients. The tethered shooting shouldn’t be an attention grabber to your portrait or headshot client experience, but more of a workflow and delivery tool. I usually have my HMUA sitting at my laptop checking lighting, exposure and of course, hair + makeup. I’ve tried a few different ways of shooting tethered with my clients and from what I’ve gathered, it’s best to keep your screen private, only showing them a few awesome shots to get them excited about how the shoot is going. We don’t want them to be distracted by looking at the screen every time you release your shutter. I usually go through and cull when they are changing to their next look. If a client is looking through every image, there is a risk of them getting self conscious about the way they look – which could make the shoot vibe change very quickly. It’s important to always be aware of their feelings!
Why Shooting Tethered Rocks!
Tethering helps us slow down and focus on making each shot look amazing. Every time I have an “oh I can Photoshop that” I take an extra second to pause, fix it (I usually can fix it on set) and continue shooting. In the long run, this attention to detail helps with workflow overall. By shooting tethered, we can also adjust things like color, levels and curves. Capture One has a myriad of other edit options too, which is great to get approval from your clients. Shooting tethered also allows me to check things like focus and exposure right from my computer screen, which can sometimes be difficult on a small LCD camera screen.
I love shooting Tethered and have seen the value and time that it’s added to my business since using it.